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March 23, 2012

Headline News

Legal Watch

Trends and Research

ASA for You

Headline News


For Long-Unemployed, Hiring Bias Rears Its Head
Associated Press (03/23/12)

With close to 13 million Americans unemployed last month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are concerns that employers may be discriminating against those who have been out of work for long periods of time. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports legislation that would prohibit discrimination against the unemployed in job ads, direct hiring, or screenings by staffing firms is being considered by lawmakers in several states.

In Connecticut, proposed legislation would prohibit discrimination in job ads, but lawmakers might not go as far as allowing unemployed job seekers to file complaints with the state’s human rights commission or to sue for alleged discrimination. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association says firms oppose measures that would allow workers to sue for discrimination but consider a ban on discriminatory job ads to be reasonable. However, the National Employment Law Project is pushing states to go beyond prohibiting discriminatory ads to stop employers, including staffing firms, from excluding unemployed job seekers from consideration for employment.

Terri Michaels, manager of Stewart Staffing Solutions in Hartford, CT, criticizes hiring practices that screen out unemployed job seekers. She says that despite the policies of small staffing companies such as hers, some large employers have an unspoken policy against hiring applicants who have been out of work for two years or more because they want workers with a stable job history and recent references. “They won’t be able to say it but they’ll act on it,” says Michaels.

Leading Economic Index for U.S. Increases
The Conference Board News Release (03/22/12)

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.7% in February to 95.5, following a 0.2% increase in January and a 0.5% increase in December. Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board, says: “continued broad-based gains in the LEI for the U.S. confirm a more positive outlook for general economic activity in the first half of 2012, although still subdued consumer expectations and the purchasing managers’ index for new orders held the LEI back in February. The board’s measure of current economic conditions has also been rising as employment, income, and sales data all continue to improve. Industrial production, however, has not yet picked up strongly.”

Jobs Are Going Back to the Future
Financial Times (03/22/12) Peter Whitehead

Denis Pennel’s position as managing director of Ciett, the international confederation of private employment firms, gives him a broad perspective on workplace trends—and he has clear views on where they are heading. “We think permanent employment will decrease,” he says, “but agents advising staff and acting as contractors will increase. Intermediaries are more and more involved in employment.” Pennel notes that “free agents, or self-employed people, are already a big proportion of the work force—and it will increase.”

Pennel sees social networking as the great enabler, creating a “community” of contributors rather than a traditional “company.” The recruitment sector has a vital role in managing the relationships and the intricate legal and contractual complexities that will arise. The recruitment industry is “all about matching supply and demand for labor,” Pennel notes. “There are more diverse skills and expectations today, and human resources will be individualized in the future—no more one-size-fits-all policies. Individuals will be choosing who they want to work for and the third-party intermediaries will look at skills, soft skills, and personalities in matching supply and demand. So recruiters can become HR departments.”


Legal Watch


Wilkins Health Care Company Settles Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Complaint
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (03/21/12)

Capital Healthcare Solutions has agreed to pay $12,000 to settle a 2011 lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suit claims the health care staffing firm refused to hire a nursing assistant who is HIV positive. The EEOC says in the lawsuit that the staffing firm offered to hire an applicant in September 2010 but subsequently rescinded the offer after learning from his pre-employment physical that he was HIV positive. In addition to the $12,000 payment, the staffing firm has agreed to conduct four hours of training on how to evaluate the physical and medical qualifications of potential employees.

ADA May Soon Require Disabled Employees Be Given Super Preference for Internal Vacancies
Lexology (03/19/12) Christopher Ward

In the case EEOC v. United Airlines Inc., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against the airline for new reasonable accommodation guidelines stating that disabled workers no longer able to perform the essential functions of their jobs could be accommodated through a job transfer, but they could not be guaranteed the vacant position if there are superior candidates seeking that position. The EEOC argued that under the Americans With Disabilities Act, disabled workers who are minimally qualified for the vacant position must be given priority.

The Seventh Circuit granted the employer’s motion to dismiss and later affirmed its previous decision when the EEOC appealed, noting that it addressed the same issue in a 2000 ruling. However, the court said it could not overturn its previous ruling unless the governing statutory language had changed or a U.S. Supreme Court decision directly undermined its previous decision. Thus, observers believe employers should act with caution when transferring disabled employees.

Employees and Former Employees Have Up to Three Years to File Suit Under FMLA
Business Management Daily (03/18/12)

Just because a former employee misses a state agency or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadline to file a complaint doesn’t mean companies can’t or won’t be sued. If the employee’s claim is related to the Family and Medical Leave Act, he or she has up to three years to file a federal lawsuit. For routine violations, employees may wait up to two years before suing, but for a “willful” violation, they have up to three years to file.

Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices
OSHA (03/12/12)

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the entire work force is at risk if employees feel they cannot report illness or injuries. Under section 11 (c) of the OSH Act, employees’ ability to report work-related injuries or illnesses is considered a core employee right. Earlier this month, OSHA issued a new memorandum on this topic.


Trends and Research


Labor Department: Green Jobs Account for 2.4% of Employment in 2010
Washington Post (03/23/12) Sarah Halzack

“Green” jobs comprised 2.4% of U.S. total employment in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the DOL’s first-ever survey of green goods and services jobs, the U.S. had 3.1 million green jobs in 2010. Manufacturing contributed the greatest number of green jobs of any private-sector industry. Construction and professional, scientific, and technical services also contributed large numbers of green jobs. California had more green jobs in 2010 than any other state and the District of Columbia, representing 2.3% of total employment.

Demand for Industrial Engineers Reaches a Four-Year High
Wanted Analytics (03/22/12) Carolyn Menz

Job postings for industrial engineers rose 27% in February compared with the same month in 2011. Demand is recovering well from its recessionary low in June 2009, up 207%. Companies in Los Angeles posted the most jobs, a 50% increase from a year ago. Houston, Detroit, Chicago, and New York rounded out the list of the top five metro areas with an increase in hiring demand for industrial engineers.


ASA for You


Staffing Law Conference Update: Hotel Group Rate Extended to March 28

The ASA group rate at the Hotel Helix has been extended to Wednesday, March 28; this hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the Westin City Center Hotel—the location for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference, April 17–18, Washington, DC. The exact distance between the hotels is 0.3 miles. The Westin is sold out, but ASA has secured a block of rooms at the Hotel Helix for conference attendees.

Make reservations by calling the Hotel Helix at 800-706-1202 and asking for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference group rate. The group room rate is $259 (plus tax) per night for single or double occupancy (includes complimentary Internet access), and is subject to room availability.

Among the valuable content presented at the upcoming ASA Staffing Law Conference is a can’t-miss session—“The Regulators Speak: Enforcement Agendas of DOL, EEOC, and DOJ.” Senior-level agency representatives discuss wage and hour, immigration, and antidiscrimination enforcement agendas and efforts, and what those mean for staffing firms. Register today.
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